Hero Pose / Virasana
Step by step
- Begin on your hands and knees with your knees directly under your hips
- Bring your knees closer together and your feet slightly wider than hip width
- Press the tops of the feet firmly into the mat
- Start to lower your hips back slowly so that you are eventually sitting on the mat (or props) between your heels - you may need to roll the flesh of the calves away
- Keep checking in with your knees the whole time while coming into the pose to make sure there are no sharp or twisting sensations.
- For many people sitting onto the heels or placing a block or cushion between the heels to sit on will be safer for the knees and easier for the quadriceps. Watch this class on Saddle Pose variations from Jose de Groot for more about this
- Keep the toes pointing back and the inner ankles drawn in to protect the knees
- Draw your navel in and up, lengthen your tailbone to the floor and extend through the crown of your head
- Stay in the pose for 5 to 10 breaths
- Come out of the pose the way you came in, by placing the hands in front of you and lifting the hips back up to a tabletop (all fours) position or by shifting your bottom over to one side so that you can extend one leg then the other into Dandasana
- You can also stay in Virasana for longer periods and use it as a pose for meditation. In this case it is more comfortable for most people to use props (blocks or cushions) to sit on.
- This is a strong pose for the knees so don’t be afraid of using lots of props to raise the hips
- You can practice the pose one leg at a time with one leg folded under and the other straight out in front of you before coming into the full pose
- Gradually build up the length of time you stay in the pose
- Keep pressing firmly through the tops of the feet and firm the inner ankles in
- If your ankles are stiff or you find they want to splay out to the sides place a rolled-up blanket under your shins so that the your shins are raised but your feet are off the blanket.
- Stretches ankles, tops of the feet, knees, and legs
- Energises the legs when they are tired
- A great alternative to Lotus pose for meditation
- An alternative version is to have your knees and feet together and then to sit on your heels rather than in between them
- Virasana can be used therapeutically for some kinds of knee pain as described in Bernie Clark’s blog post Yin Yoga for the knees and Esther’s class for members Virasana - Hero pose heals
Watch out for
- Avoid this pose if you have ankle or knee injuries unless you are using lots of props. Please see beginner tips and variations for advice on how to use them
- If your quads (front of thigh muscles) are very tight come into the pose slowly and keep the hips higher by sitting on blocks or cushions. You should feel the stretch in the belly of the muscle rather than at the attachment points at the hips or knees.
- Complementary poses
- Try it in class